Out on your own, not out on a limb

The Independent Traveller's World aims to prepare free spirits for the unexpected. By Simon Calder

Travel is terrifying. You get ill, lose your passport and money, and feel lonely - and that's just on the Gatwick Express. More seriously, events this week have brought home the chilling reality behind some of the seductive images of travel: the disappearance of a British backpacker in Thailand, and the kidnapping of two tourists in Costa Rica have concentrated the minds of intending travellers. The world beyond the glossy brochures is a perplexing place; "independent" need not imply "intrepid", but sometimes it feels as if it does.

"We are in the business of allaying fears, offering advice and, most important, providing encouragement," says Helen Caldwell, who launched the first Independent Traveller's World at Bristol's Watershed Media Centre in 1993. Since then it has expanded considerably, but remains a celebration of the sort of world that goes unrecognised by high-street travel agencies. Whether you seek reassurance or merely insurance, the Watershed will become a real travellers' souk over the weekend of 19 to 21 February. Overland truck operators, travel publishers and discount ticket agencies will be vying for the hearts and passports of an estimated 6,000 travellers.

The idea that planning a trip should be as exciting as talking about it afterwards was developed jointly by Helen Caldwell and her partner Mark Renwick. The beauty of it, he says, is that "you can arrive with nothing but good intentions and depart with precise travel plans". People who have been there, done that and have the photos (and bruises) to prove it will reveal the rewards and risks of cycling to Peking or canoeing the Amazon. In a programme of talks and workshops, recently returned travellers provide the latest on hot new destinations and cool travel tips. Then you can check out air fares, buy a guidebook or two, and find out what health precautions you need.

If a post-Christmas cashflow crisis has given you a nasty scare, Susan Griffith - author of Work Your Way Around the World - is on hand with advice about fish-packing in Iceland or teaching English in Peru.

For some, the most terrifying thing about travel in the late Nineties is the way that hi-tech seems to have hijacked it. So Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guides, will be taking travellers on a tour around the Internet, where the Rough Guide to the USA now resides, constantly updated by travellers. And should the prospect of writing about travel frighten you more than the journey itself, a travel-writing workshop could put your mind at rest. One of the contributors is Rory McLean, who went on from winning an Independent travel-writing competition to become an established writer and broadcaster.

The Independent has been closely involved with the event from the outset, and the newspaper's travel team will again be represented at Bristol. "We see it as an excellent opportunity to meet travellers and the travel industry, and to get feedback from readers," says Harriet O'Brien, who edits these pages. "The event helps keep us sharp - at the cutting edge of travel journalism."

Like the Independent's travel coverage, the event seeks to prove than you need not be young, rich nor superhumanly fit to see the real world. Neither does it shirk from the dangers of travel - both to travellers, and to the planet. Equipment companies will be demonstrating water filters and protection against mosquitoes, while speakers focus on the need for cultural and environmental sensitivity among travellers.

The challenge of independent travel is not for everyone, and some visitors may find the main effect of the event is to deter them; better you find out on a winter weekend in Bristol than halfway up the Orinoco without a paddle. The rest of us can find inspiration, and take comfort from fellow travellers: this need not be the year of living dangerously.

Independent Traveller's World 1996

Bristol: Watershed Media Centre, 19-21 January. Admission on Friday is pounds 2; on Saturday and Sunday, pounds 3.50.

London: Business Design Centre, Islington, 9-11 February. Friday pounds 3, Saturday and Sunday pounds 5.

Edinburgh: Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, 2-3 March. Admission pounds 3.50

Readers of the Independent and Independent on Sunday are entitled to a pounds 1 discount on the normal admission price for Saturday and Sunday by producing a copy of that day's newspaper. Call 0117-930 4440 or fax 0117- 987 2627 for more details of Independent Traveller's World events.

On the travel page of Section Two next Wednesday, Jeremy Skidmore of the industry journal Travel Weekly will be giving the inside track on the high-street travel wars.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice